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The Williams F1 team, Hulkenberg and Maldonado
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The Williams F1 team, Hulkenberg and Maldonado
Posted By: James Allen  |  31 Oct 2010   |  6:43 am GMT  |  126 comments

For the past few weeks the word inside the F1 paddock has been that a deal for Pastor Maldonado to race for Williams F1 next year is done. There is an assumption that this would be at the expense of Nico Hulkenberg, who is in his first season in F1.

Williams currently refuse to confirm or deny this, however they did announce this week that Maldonado will take part in the Young Driver test for Williams at Abu Dhabi next month. At 25 he is not exactly a young driver by today’s standards, but he qualifies in terms of his level of F1 experience.

Although he is understood to have access to a strong sponsor portfolio, possibly as much as €10 million a season, the team will be able to argue that it is not trading down to pay drivers, as the Venezualan Maldonado won this year’s GP2 series, as did Hulkenberg last year. However this year’s GP2 was particularly disappointing talent wise compared to previous years. The other driver to come through from GP2 this year is 20 year old Sergio Perez, who was runner up to Maldonado in the championship.

Maldonado has backing from his country, Venezuela, with state owned oil company PDVSA a long term backer. This year he also ran Venezuela branding on his car as well. Venezuela is the world’s fifth largest oil exporting nation and the country’s colourful president Hugo Chavez is backing Maldonado.

Adam Parr, who took over as team principal and chairman of Williams in July from Sir Frank Williams, was understood to be in Venezuela recently finalising the deal. Williams will presumably give Maldonado the Young Driver test and then if he is to race next season, they will need him to take part in the Pirelli test which follows in Abu Dhabi. Whether they make an announcement about the driver line up before or after that test remains to be seen. Maldonado is due to compete in the final round of the GP2 championship during the Grand Prix weekend.

Hulkenberg has something 'exceptional', says Williams (Darren Heath)


This weekend on the BBC website there is an interview with Sir Frank Williams in which he pays tribute to the progress made by Hulkenberg this season. He describes his early season as “a little disappointing, maybe, perhaps because he was being over-cautious.”

In the first nine races Hulkenberg scored just one point to Barrichello’s 19. He has scored 17 points in the eight races since then, as the improving Williams car has become a regular in the top ten in qualifying.

But looked at more closely, in the second half of the season he has been quick and has often outpaced Barrichello in races, even if he hasn’t always been able to outqualify him. Barrichello has often shaded it by a tenth or less. We’ve seen Hulkenberg develop quite impressively as a driver, but has he done enough to resist the appeal to the team of replacing him with Maldonado?

Williams had some kind words for Hulkenberg’s development, “But lately he has become very competitive and we have just seen the beginning of something exceptional.

“He’s one of those drivers a bit like Lewis, who won all the way up to Formula 3 and GP2, he has won every single championship and in the right team, hopefully us one day, he will win the world championship as well in Formula 1.”

Asked by the BBC interviewer “Do you look forward to seeing him next year?” Williams replies, “Absolutely, we do hope so, yes.”

The kind words may be aimed at Barrichello’s ears as part of a negotiating ploy. There are some factions within the team who feel he could be doing more, although he has had a pretty good season and Williams has been strong on development.

Williams is in a strong position, having a top ten car to offer and the option of Hulkenberg. The reality is that although Barrichello is the more highly paid driver, believed to be earning in the region of €5 million a year, he has scored 47 points to Hulkenberg’s 18. Williams will have an idea of what Hulkenberg could achieve next season and could safely go with Hulkenberg and Maldonado, a line up that would be similar in experience to Sauber’s next season. The pair were tea mates together in GP2 in 2009, when Hulkenberg had the upper hand. But Barrichello brings a great deal to the team not just in results but in technical development and having a winning driver in the team maintains prestige. So it looks like it may be Hulkenberg who makes way.

He will no doubt be in demand and his manager, Willi Weber, should be able to find him a decent seat.

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126 Comments
  1. George says:

    Is there scope for the Hulk to move elsewhere, perhaps to one of the ‘new’ teams such as Lotus, Hispania or Virgin?

    1. Ayron says:

      Those teams need the money even more than Williams does. he won’t get a gig there on talent alone…

  2. Chris Orr says:

    Hulkenberg has been a good driver in all the other series. Not to forget the A1GP where he was champion for Germany too.
    Its been a tough year for him, and maybe Williams isnt able to develop some drivers for f1 as well as the other big teams.
    Hes far more impressive the Petrov. I would hate to see Nico replaced by a pay driver.

    As James said, the GP2 series this year, hasnt been impressive as previous years.

    1. Stefanos says:

      I agree. It will be a new low in Williams’ history when they become a pay driver team. Its sad to see this once successful team moving backwards so rapidly. He should have sold to BMW when the team was actually worth something.

  3. Kev says:

    Will we see Rubens retiring & Williams retaining a promising young talent or will Williams do a HRT and give the drive to the driver who has the highest bid on the day?

    Also I would like to see Nico at Lotus along with Kovi. It would be a good pairing for Lotus to improve their position among the teams.

  4. Andy C says:

    I just wonder whether they might go for the younger pairing. Although clearly Rubens has brought a lot of feedback this year on translating developments into working on the track.

    Williams would not want to give hulk to someone else for free I’m sure. Maybe a Williams option on him for the future…..

    Hulkenburg has definitely got the potential. No doubt about that. Seems a shame that he misses out but that’s more to do with the economic situation for williams and sponsors. Maldonado is Timorese to bring a lot of sponsorship along with his talent.

    The next couple of years will be critical for Williams as they need to continue their progress up the field or risk becoming a midfield team permanently. I really hope they do as they are a great team!

  5. Paul says:

    Maldonado doesn’t deserve the Williams seat at the expense of the other two drivers, but money talks and he probably will drive for them next year.

    Barrichello has been excellent this year, although maybe Williams have seen that Hulkenberg has done better than initially thought and it is a wiser long term move to keep him on.

    It is worth noting that Maldonado and Hulkenberg were teammates before, in GP2 in 2009. and Hulkenberg destroyed Maldonado in his first year. Maldonado couldn’t handle it and started to badly over-drive.

  6. kowalsky says:

    barrichello and maldonado, letting hulkenberg to a small team for a year, with the option to bring him back.That’s the ideal situation in my view. Hulk and maldonado this year it’s too early, but barrichello has no more than one year left in him, driving a f1 car. Rubinho it’s time to call it a day.there is other forms of motorsport outthere.Nascar, lemans etc. Just in case your adition it’s out of control yet.

    1. melonfarmer says:

      I think Frank had his fingers burnt loaning Button out the last time he had a 3-into-2 situation. Was Button also on a 5 yr deal?

      This week’s Autosport ran a Ralf Schumacher’s “race of my life” feature; I recall grumblings when he signed for Williams that he was bringing money from a fizzy lager company, but he didn’t turn out too badly.

      I would be disappointed if Williams did move either of their current drivers aside – it would lend credibility to the “Williams is the new Tyrrell” theory (also mentioned when BMW, Allianz, Castrol etc. departed in 2005).

  7. Kishan says:

    It’s a shame I thought hulkenburg did enough to retain his seat. It’s a bigger Shame to say that if nico could pull in £10mil per year in sponsors his seat would be safe.

  8. Andy says:

    I think Williams would be wise to hold on to Rubens. He is a great driver with a lot of experience, not just in races but also in car development and giving feedback to the engineers.

    1. RickeeBoy says:

      Rubens experience is the reason that the car is currently doing so well – Rubens would make an excellent 1 year spell in a Ferrari because I do think Massa is not happy now – but Rubens is probably the only guy on the grid who wouldn’t want it. Rubens is driving great. He doesn’t seem to have lost the edge …. surprising at his age I know.

  9. Ryan Eckford says:

    Williams have got to keep Hulkenberg. I don’t think Maldonado is a better driver than Hulkenberg. I just don’t believe why some teams get rid of rookie drivers when they don’t achieve the same results as Hamilton did in 2007. Not many drivers out there can be as good as Hamilton straight away. Some team bosses need better education when it comes to this.

  10. michael grievson says:

    So if hulk goes it will be another driver who only lasts one season

  11. ian says:

    Awful shame if Williams have to take a driver because he brings in money. Awful also for such a great Team to be associated with the likes of Chevez …

    1. Art says:

      How about you keep the political propaganda talk on a political site?

      It is Chávez by the way, not Chevez, a man who has done more for the poor in his country than all Western leaders of the last decade combined have done in their countries.

      Just because he doesn’t let the Western corporations plunder his country and let foreign interests dictate his policies doesn’t mean he is wrong, just like the Western media (who is controlled by the corporations) want you to believe, and have seemingly succeeded.

      But yes F1, Rubens, even though I like him, time to retire, let the young blood flow into F1. The Hulk is the best rookie after Kobayashi (just fantastic to watch) and he should be given a chance.

      1. Jo Torrent says:

        I think that your own comment is political mate ! Chavez isn’t the evil the west sees but he’s no angel either. What’s true is that Petrol companies were controlled by a white minority which worked for its own interests and those of the USA. In return, the USA provided their support and protection. In all those years the core Indian population suffered.

        Chavez went too far to the opposite side, he took control of these companies and used their money to help his own people in education health and direct financial help, but most of his help is useless. He’s not using the money to enhance the country. He uses it as subventions against poverty which has time limited effect. He has to work on the long term future of his country by using his black gold to enhance economic foundations of a healthy country.

        Communism showed its limitations and dangers and I can’t understand how some countries leaders keep following that path.

        Final point, it is really shocking that a communist leader finances a single individual career to the extent of 10M€ to 15M€ for a FORMULA1 1 year contract ! Poor MARX, he didn’t know he’ll end with such heirs !

      2. Galapago555 says:

        “In all those years the core Indian population suffered.”

        Didn’t know there were so many people from India in Venezuela…

      3. nickname says:

        I was waiting for the torrent of Chavez criticism from f1, I wonder if a George Bush or Tony Blair backed driver would receive such a hostile reception despite Chavez having not over-reacted to the actions of 19 people by destroying two countries also and putting his country at the cross-hairs of millions more whom are seeking revenge for the above-mentioned atrocities.

  12. Kieran says:

    Sad that in the world of Formula One, compliments are double edged – a sales pitch to other teams, and a hurry up to the other driver.

    Let’s hope he finds a driver somewhere, he’s definitely my rookie of the year.

    1. Clay says:

      Kobayashi’s heaps better than Hulkenberg!

  13. unoc says:

    reanult maybe for hulkenberg…. I don’t really think maldnoaisdnoas will do that well.. Might be based quite heavily on the young driver tests. If he is fast enough then he comes in fr probably hulkenberg*, if he isn’t quick enough then no go.

    *Hulkenberg because Barichello may cost 5milion euros BUT his role has moved/will move williams next year up the constructors hence they get more moeny. Barichello also has great tech knowledge and can help develop the car so that eh can score more aswell as the 2nd driver. THe better tha car is and the more points that can eb scored, the further up teh standings williams is and then Barichello should be about able to pay for himself. (it’s 10 million euros for 10th over 0 for 11th and 12th, so I don’t know the exact figures but it should be definately more than 5 million).

  14. Alexx says:

    Force India should sign Hulk as a replacement for Luizzi.

    Hulk has more potential than Luizzi, who i believe should be a test driver with FI rather.

    1. Jon says:

      What about Di Resta? surely he will be taking any vacant seat at Force India

  15. Valley Girl says:

    Adam Parr lost Nico R and employed Rubens last year at $6m+ while making technical people redundant, saying that the team needed top class drivers. He chose Cossie over Renault power and he has presided over an era that has seen the team go backward against teams with smaller budgets and less technical expertise and resource – all the while being promoted.

    Now Williams look like taking an average pay driver for no good strategic reason.

    Bernie Ecclestone once called Adam Parr “An amateur” and I can’t see he has delivered the goods in any way- has Adam got something I’m missing or is he “below Parr”

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      Williams started going backwards before Parr took charge unless I’m wrong. So the blame must be put on the team’s owners which are still there Williams and Head.

      I’m really disappointed with their management. They seem to jump on every newcomer in F1. When MICHELIN came back they were the 1st big team to work with them (it was a risky choice). When MICHELIN was to leave F1, they were the 1st team to jump to BRIDGESTONE even though MICHELIN was the better side. And now yet again they have a choice between RENAULT and a very risky COSWORTH power and they choose COSWORTH. Is COSWORTH upthere with the other engines, I don’t know and I haven’t read anything to suggest it is a good engine or a bad one.

      The last episode in their bad choices saga is HULKENBERG. They bring a rookie, a very promising one. They spend a whole year making him discover F1, the team, the circuits, how to set up a car, how to work with his crew. The guy is talented and improving through the year. And at the end, they’ll loose him because of money and not only will they loose him they’ll loose the 5 year contract as they won’t keep him.

      I don’t see them keeping the HULK and dumping Rubens, it’s too risky ! So why hiring him in the 1st place, why not hiring HEIDFELD in 2010 and a paying driver in 2011. It IS ABSOLUTELY RUBBISH TO HIRE A ROOKIE FOR ONLY ONE YEAR !!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Before I forget, there’s the KERS episode. Here, you have companies such as FERRARI and RENAULT who have their KERS developed by MAGNETTI MARELLI (maybe only in part) and WILLIAMS a team struggling for several years to build a competitive car not only develops its own KERS solution but takes an opposite path to everybody else (flywheel kers solution) and buys a company to do so ! And what’s the result, they haven’t used their flywheel KERS solution, not even once !!!!
      Luckily, they’re using their company to develop KERS for PORSCHE road cars but that’s not the aim of WILLIAMS, is it ?
      When HONDA left, BRAWN ditched KERS. RedBull didn’t develop their own solution and concentrated on developing an aerodynamically efficient car. So why does Williams go the hard way about everything ?

      This team, the 2nd most famous after FERRARI in my view, is dying in a slow painful never ending slide. Every year, we think they reached the bottom and from now own they’ll recover and they keep digging year after year after year… till we get used to their mediocrity.

      How can I see they make wrong choices and they don’t ! Are they too old, too stubborn to change methods ? I don’t know !

      This team used to win despite its drivers. It used to ditch drivers even world champions.
      Now, they are bad at building a car, at choosing partners, at keeping partners, at choosing drivers and at keeping them. This team can’t even dream of a victory let alone a championship !

      The only reason I see is that they kept a top team mentality with a midfield team knowhow and finances. They should ditch many departments and concentrate on the core of FORMULA 1 : aero and chassis. They shouldn’t even care about hydraulics and gearboxes. After all, their opponents Sauber, ForceIndia and the ambitious LOTUS don’t develop their own.

      1. Richard Mee says:

        Inaccurate. I’ll grant that Williams got caught napping when budgets started going nuts in the late 90′s and it’s a long and difficult road back to the top. However, please don’t criticse their current efforts at diversifying… their flywheel KERS system is unique and has the potential to be the best on the grid by a margin – it will also secure them vital additional income from use in future Porsche (plus VW group?) road and race cars. Kudos for having the guts to do something different.

        “Aero and chassis” you say – 100% agree when you have a global drinks brand or car sales providing your capital. If not, you’re living hand to mouth season to season and it won’t last the distance.

      2. Jo Torrent says:

        They had a partnership with BMW where not only BMW gave them the engine for free but funded the Williams team and they did nothing with it, did they ?

        When BMW left to buy Sauber they were better than Williams straight away. How come they could beat williams so easily with a team that hasn’t performed highly before ?

        How many constructors came to FORMULA 1 ? BMW TOYOTA HONDA and RENAULT. It’s their fault if they couldn’t secure any longterm successful partnership with any of these companies.

        As for KERS, I don’t see how every other team went for the battery storage solution being wrong and Williams is right by going the flywheel route.
        For example BMW took the KERS seriously and looked at different storage solutions before going the battery way. Are Williams smarter than all the other teams ? And mainly why bother developing KERS if you’re not good at developing good aero solutions. Enhance your aero department instead !
        Finally, you’re saying that the porsche VW group contract secure them vital additional income. Do you know how important is the contract and how vital is it to their finances, or are you just throwing arguments ?

      3. Wallers says:

        I’d love to read your comments fully, but the random CAPITALISATION of words just annoys me.

      4. Jo Torrent says:

        The “caps lock” button doesn’t follow my instructions.

  16. mawchi says:

    Hulkenberg & renault? he would be better of, so would renault?

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      Renault isn’t in a great shape financially either. The problem of RENAULT is that it has the colors of the car company but it’s a private team : it’s a GENII car with a free Renault engine.

      So they might need a paying driver as well. They might even loose some of their current partners if they ditch the Russian. I don’t see the Hulk with them anytime soon.

    2. Stefanos says:

      Have you not read the story that James wrote above? Hulkenberg may lose his seat because he can’t afford to pay for it. And why do you think Petrov has a seat with Renault??

  17. monktonnik says:

    I think if Hulkenberg has effectively matched Barrichello on points, the logic of dropping him makes not much sense.

    It would perhaps be better to drop Rubens to save £5mil and take the £10mil pay driver. I can’t imagine that Barrichellos input on development or extra points scoring ability would make up that kind of money.

    Personally I think that Williams should do whatever they need to do to move up the grid. They are racers first and foremost and it would be a shame to see them sacrificing performance for commercial benefit, although they have done that before (Kazuki Nakajima anyone?).

    1. Sinnae404 says:

      They are racers, and I have big respect for Frank Williams and Patrick Head for their contributions to Formula One.

      But – I’ve never understood their philosophy. Such as the undermining of their own psychologically vulnerable drivers over the years (Hill, Frenzten), the many years they stubbornly seemed to neglect the importance of fast pitstops (early-mid 1990s – always the slowest of the top teams), and the often repeated mantra that it’s the constructors championship that is their true goal, and the drivers championship is secondary.

      It was always about the car – everything else was a supporting role only.

      They are also amongst the worst offenders of the ‘unnecessary’ Team Orders – people speak of Ferrari in 2002 but don’t forget Williams made Patrese give way to Mansell in 1992 at the French GP, when Mansell was way ahead of the competition with only Patrese as his genuine opposition in the championship. A crime against the fans in a season that needed any excitement it could get.

      If there is a shift in Williams approach through new blood, it’s got to be a good thing.

  18. Craig says:

    Seems to me the deal has been done with Maldonado because of the money and this is Frank Williams’s way of increasing Nico Hulkenbergs chance of staying in F1 telling everyone else what a talent he is.

    1. David Turnedge says:

      You’d have to say this is the mark of a good employer: we can’t afford to keep you but we’ll give you a great reference.

      No hard feelings… a team without a budget looks like Hispania… the sport doesn’t need another underfunded team, especially one with an F1 pedigree like Williams’.

  19. Rafael says:

    It’s incredibly sad to see a multiple championship winning team, like Williams, having to stoop down to these sorts of levels for monetary purposes. And although I have nothing but respect for Frank and Patrick, I cannot help but feel they somewhat brought this upon themselves when they took for granted their partnership with BMW. As BMW have shown when they took over Sauber: although they were never quite championship material, they do know how to be competitive – they were almost there. If only Williams managed the situation better, then probably the partnership could have blossomed into something McLaren and Mercedes once had.

    Although I think Rubens still has it, I believe it is he that has to go. Let’s be realistic, how many more years does he have left compared to Hulkenburg? Yes, Rubens can develop the car for next season, but it’s not like it will really bring Williams back into the championship fore. Hulkenburg can still learn, and the team can learn with him.

    Seriously though, Williams needs to be backed by a manufacturer. No matter how much FOTA tries, it’s quite impossible to bring down team budgets back to the ’80s/early ’90s level. Too much technology and speed has been unearthed, and Formula 1 has moved on with the times.

  20. Tom (London) says:

    Bit off topic.

    James, Great Banner today. I always look forward to seeing what you have come up with for each Grand Prix.

    You should make the old ones browsable.

    1. James Allen says:

      We are doing a screensaver of old banners

    2. Trent says:

      What does it say down the bottom, just above the ‘Goodyear’ logo on Sennas shoulder?

      1. Galapago555 says:

        “Seoul men”???

  21. Richard M says:

    If Williams do replace Hulkenberg maybe Mercades will hire his as a test driver for 2011 with the view to have him replace Schumacher for 2012.

    Also James what do you think about the rumours of Senna moving to Lotus?

    1. James Allen says:

      There has long been talk of Petrobras joining Lotus. They were lined up for a deal at Honda for 2009 which is where the Senna link came in.

  22. Tim says:

    Maldonado may well be GP2 champion, but it took him long enough in the series to do it. It begs the questions as to whether GP2 experience was the key to his championship, rather than talent.

    Very few topline F1 drivers spent more than 2 years in any of the junior championships before moving onwards and upwards. Very good racing drivers tend to be able to adapt very quickly to new types of cars, more power, more grip, etc. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Hulkenberg only needed a season in GP2 to win the title. After karting, Jenson Button spent only a year in Formula Ford and another in Formula 3 before jumping into an F1 seat – while it may have arguably been too soon, he still acquitted himself very well.

    If a driver needs to stay in a series for longer than that to come anywhere near winning it, despite having large amounts of sponsorship and access to some of the best teams, they usually aren’t destined for F1 greatness. There are always exceptions, however, and you only need to look at Kamui Kobayashi’s European GP2 results to see that. But I don’t get any sense that Maldonado will thrive in F1.

  23. It would be sad confirmation of the current financial situation at the Williams team if they feel the need to dispense with the services of either of their two drivers for the sake of bringing in an extra €10m.

    Sir Frank’s comments about the Hulk were perfectly timed to talk up a transfer fee but, if money is deperately needed and Rubens really is earning €5m a year, I fear that it might be the more experienced driver who has to give way, increasing the net gain to close to €15m.

    Pity. Sir Frank and Patrick know what a strong driver line up they have had in 2010 :

    Few drivers are better at developing a car than Rubens and Hulk has shown good speed and some racecraft.

    Unless any replacement proves to be another Lewis, it has to be a step backwards.

  24. S.J.M says:

    Would be a shame if Nico went after just 1 year, hes clearly improved with each race and can only improve & be more competitive next year.

    I understand from a financial point of view why Williams would consider taking Maldonado on next year, but its hard to see it as anything but a step backwards. Nico has the years F1 experiance over him, will know the team now and has experience all the tracks. Putting a new rookie in the car will lead to rookie mistakes and loss of points.

    James, i dont know exactly how much teams recieve for their standings in the WCC as prize money, but with Force India & Renault improving as competitive team (the later having overtaken them) and Lotus looking to get in on the act next year, can williams afford to loose positions in next years WCC for the sake of £10mil being brought in by a Pay driver?

  25. Ralf F says:

    Hi James. As a long time fan of your blog and a Venezuelan F1 fan I owe it to you and your readers to reply to this thread.

    I am happy if Maldonado gets a chance to drive in F1. I think he proved in GP2 that in the right circumstances he can be a winning driver. Not everyone can streak that many feature wins in a row. Of course F1 means more pressure, but look what it did to Kobayashi! I think Pastor deserves a shot.

    I do not think he deserves the Williams seat more than Nico or Rubens, and I am not happy that my state has to pay for it (although it is still money better spent there than where it might go if it was left in Chavez hands).

    If Williams really need the money, then they should like someone suggested “loan” Nico to a new team, like they did with Button before, although I hope they do it better this time!

    And I hope Williams don’t paint the cars red and Chavez or his henchmen start showing up in races. It would be a disgrace for the team and the sport.

    1. nickname says:

      Pity you and co keep screaming that Chavez’s involvement in F1 would be a a disgrace but at the same time conspicuously silent on the disgracefullness of people like Briatore not only “showing up at races” but clearly being propped up by. the british media darling,Ecclestone, to reclaim an influential role within our sport. Chavez has never orchestrated to fix a grand prix, risking the lives of brave marshals all in the name of greed.

      1. Ralf F says:

        What are you talking about? I don’t like Briatore either. And I won’t get into a discussion of what Chavez has or has not done compared to Briatore because this is an F1 blog, but in any case, I think it would be a disgrace for ANY team or sport to be seen with ANY politician as radical, vocal and critic of the “system” as Chavez, be it leftist or not or whatever. Specially because there is nothing more “system” as F1.

      2. Galapago555 says:

        So ridiculous… let’s stop talking ’bout politics. This is an F1 blog!

        Btw, never heard about Briatore giving shelter and financial support to terrorist groups such as Colombian FARC or Spanish ETA…

      3. Steve says:

        “the British media darling, Ecclestone”?????
        That’s news to me! Have you ever been to Britain?

  26. VV says:

    If Frank gets rid of Rubens, he needs his head examining. How are they going to develop the car and get closer to the front if they have a rookie plus another driver in his sophomore year?

  27. Angelo says:

    Lending him out for a season or two seems to be the right idea. Too bad for “Hulk” that he comes with neither the big funding or the big charm of a Hamilton or Rosberg (albeit both very talented in their own right). It is very sad that drivers have no chance to develop at this level… if they don’t make an impact immediately they get dropped or worse. The other side I guess is F1 is the top of the heap so if you are at this level, well, you should be in top form already. As for Moldonado, didn’t he have a brother that played baseball here in Toronto … LOL !

    1. Angelo says:

      …he did play baseball in Toronto, not his brother I imagine but this quote below may be something that is written about F1′s Moldonado ten years from now. Read the following and just insert F1 where it says “baseball”

      ” When I was a kid I remember always having a plethora of Candy Maldonado baseball cards and not knowing what to do with them. It seemed as though every time I opened a fresh pack of baseball cards, Candy’s card would turn up. I tried to trade them away to my friends but all my buddies knew better. Its just unreal how mediocre this guy was in every facet of baseball. There have been some devastatingly mediocre baseball players in the history of the MLB, but Candy Maldonado very well may be the king of mediocrity. ” (Al Kowalsky, May 5,2010)

  28. Peter says:

    Manufacturers leaving the sport somehow resulted paying drivers can push out drivers with talent. As a fan I am more interested to see another Raikkonen, Alonso, Hamilton driving than learn about who can actually collect 10 -15 million for a seat.

    1. Tim says:

      Pay drivers pushing out talented drivers has been happening for a very long time indeed. It’s inevitable in a sport so dominated by money.

      1. Andy C says:

        Tim

        I know the frustrations around drivers with sponsorship getting ahead in F1, but the guy is the reigning GP2 champ…

        Hes not Sakon Yamamoto :-)

        I think for Williams, they are in real danger if they dont get their financials in place, of dropping farther and farther back.

        They just need to keep steadily improving until the new engine regs, and hope to snag a new manufacturer (i.e VW/Porsche). Without that or a major new sponsorship deal they will steadily decline I think.

  29. Tim. says:

    JA…nice picture of Senna…very cool for Brazil.

  30. Josh Hamilton says:

    Hulkenberg comes with a lot of hype to F1, he was called as the next Hamilton.

    He is overrated.

    1. Richard M says:

      Difference is Hamilton came in with a silverspoon in his mouth with being brought up through Mclaren and straight into a championship capable winning car, while the Hulk is in a car scrapping for the lower tier of points.

      1. GQsm says:

        Car has nothing to do with it. Hulk can’t keep up with Rubens and Hamilton out performed the great Alonso in his rookie year.

        The first comparison of a driver is with his teammate. Hulk has 18 points to Rubens 47, Rubens (who is not on par with Alonso) has out-qualified Hulk 12 times out of 17, that’s how amazing Hulk has been.

        I agree with Josh, so far he is overrated. He seems to be getting a lot of praise for simply not being as rubbish as he was at the start.

        I do think he deserves the seat far more than Maldonado though.

      2. Richard M says:

        Hamilton did not outperform Alonso they finished level on points while Alonso had to get used to the Bridgestone tyres as well in the first part of the season. Hulkenberg took times adpabting but he is driving better than Rubens now.

      3. nickname says:

        And to add to that, Hamilton’s growing up at Macca enabled him to spend much of his teens plugged into an f1 simulator which not only was a great advantage but enabled him to soothe out his handling of an f1 car in a cosy 3-d environment /without/ the added pressure/embarrassment of clattering into the barriers after making a mistake which arguably helped immensely in polishing his technique, making him the ideal product Mclaren manufactured him to be.

      4. Thomas in Australia says:

        Hmmm nothing to do with talent though was it?

        Go back and read JA’s article on the brain tests designed to test drivers. It’s pretty clear that some people are born with the talent to race and others are not. You may not like it, but Hamilton is a once in a generation type driver and it’s not because somebody picked up the bills for him.

      5. Richard M says:

        Your saying the Hulks not talented? He just fluked all the wins in the other formulas?
        Hamilton is obviously talented but it would be interesting to see what position he would be in if he came to F1 as all the other drivers usually do.

  31. jmv says:

    In light of what you said, James, are FW nice and honest words about Hulkenberg aimed at other teams that are still evaluating drivers for their seats? As in: colleagues, if you need a good driver, take Nico

    FW is not one to make quick driver endorsements.. although he expresses regularly admiring certain drivers (but more the established greats)

  32. jmv says:

    I want to add though that keeping Hulk and Rubens would be the best thing… Hulk would only get stronger, more calmer, more focused, more consistent, and pushing Rubens even more… together they would scrape together as much points worth 10 million…

    Can Williams not downscale their current drivers salaries….? To keep them?

  33. Alex says:

    I personally can’t see any reason why Williams would change their line up whatsoever. Maldonado looks like he’d make for a good Pedro De La Rosa type character in F1 but I highly doubt he’d be an Ayrton Senna or Jim Clark. Then agin, Niki Lauda and Keke Rosberg proved otherwise in their respective careers so you can never be too sure I suppose…

  34. rvd says:

    I’ve always respected the Williams team as being truly independent. Drivers aside, I’d hate to see Frankie taking Chavez’s Money

    1. nickname says:

      mmmmm anouther Chavez hater, were you equally revolted when Williams happily accepted money from noble and virtuous quarters such as Rothmans and Budweiser? By the way Maldonando is backed by money from Venezuelan natural resources managed by PDVSA neither of which is personally owned by Chavez

  35. Nilesh says:

    How much did the team potentially lose last year when Nakajima didn’t score any points but brought in sponsorship? Couldn’t 10 million euros be made up by a driver consistently scoring points?

  36. SHIPARCH says:

    I really cannot believe Williams is getting rid of such a promising driver Nico is to go for the money of a socialist dictatorship from Chavez. These people have nothing to do in F1 and if he won GP2 this year is because the lack of talent in the series. Nico, if in a Ferrari, McLaren or Red Bull might have done as good as Hamilton under similar conditions, its a real shame.

    1. nickname says:

      “These people have nothing to do with f1″
      As far as I know the lifeblood of f1 cars is fuel which is produced from oil of which Venezuela is one of the leading exporters. The notion of a oil producing company making a sponsorship involvement in an industry where oil is heavily used not making sense to someone only serves to betray that someone’s lack of rationality which then serves to explain their bigoted views elsewhere such as in politics

  37. go2like says:

    i think so

  38. For Sure says:

    We have seen a rookie beating a world class driver in Alonso. And rookies like Nico isn’t making the same impact, obviously. James, how much of that testing ban has been hurting rookies?

      1. Dave C says:

        I’m sorry to say but James you are taking another dig at Alonso and biased towards Hamilton just like some of the English speaking fans here, in 2007 it might of been Hamilton’s rookie year but he knew more about the tyres and car than alonso and in the last 3 races alonso’s hands were basically tied behind his back and even then in the end it was a draw with them level on points with 4 wins each. In F1 everyone is human and sometimes vulnerable despite their talent, Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton are the top 3 drivers at this time in f1 and in that order but all 3 has made some pretty big mistakes this season but in the end their talent shines through and that’s the quality you don’t see in Hulkenberg.

    1. Chris R says:

      It would be interesting to see who were the last rookie drivers to have test sessions available, in an F1 car before it was banned.

    2. Galapago555 says:

      Don’t forget that McLaren were strongly backing that rookie… I would of like to know what could have happened should they both have been treated equally.

      1. Zobra Wambleska says:

        They were treated equally, that wasn’t what Alonso wanted or expected. This year at Ferrari should prove that point.

      2. Galapago555 says:

        “We weren’t racing Kimi, we were racing Fernando”, Ron Dennis dixit.

        http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/motorsport/formula_one/7032284.stm

      3. Zobra Wambleska says:

        Galapago, I think, if you look at the history of that season and the sequence of events, you’ll find that Ron Denis made that statement after Fernando had made it very clear that he was not going to be a team player and in fact was actively working against the team. It’s exactly that sequence of events and Alonso’s subsequent attitude that turned me against him. For me that was a loss, because I do think he’s a fantastic driver.

      4. Galapago555 says:

        Zobra, I think that Fernando was not the first to make it clear he was not going to be a team player. I think that it was in Hungaroring, when Lewis did not obey the orders about the number of laps during Q3. And there is where everything started.

        On the other hand, I do not believe that Fernando was “actively working against the team”. For me the problem was that the team never supported him half as much as they did with Lewis. Anyway, that’s my opinion, and obviously I can be wrong.

        Finally, for me that was also a loss, as I had been a McLaren fan for years, since I started following F1. After it, I changed my likes and dislikes…

        James, I have to ask if you could consider writing an insight about this – it will be very amusing during the winter break. And I insist that it would be record-breaking commented, even more than the articles about the team orders scandal in Hockenheim! :-D

      5. Azlas says:

        They were both treated equally at the beginning at least weren’t they? I thought Alonso’s relative poor performance to Hamilton in the beginning of the season was due to him getting used to Bridgestone tyres after years of using Michilins

    3. Jo Torrent says:

      Lewis Hamilton is a special specimen. No driver has had as much backing as he had. He was part of the McLaren Mercedes family very young and they kept backing him all the way till FORMULA 1 so he was pretty much their son.

      How much did he have access to the FORMULA 1 team before being part of it. How much did he work on the simulator, I don’t know ? All I know is that no driver has ever been as much prepared for F1 before him.

      All that would have had no effect if Lewis hasn’t had the talent. So he lived to the team’s expectations and investments.

      But the Hulk didn’t have such backing and thus we don’t have to read too much in his shy start to the season. He’s not showing top driver level yet but who knows ? Maybe he only needs more time ?

      1. PaulL says:

        Good points.

      2. Andy C says:

        Exactly right Jo. I think Hulkenburg has real potential, and it would be sad if he lost his seat (but great for whoever picked him up).

        People were saying when he came into F1 that he is the real deal, and I havent seen anything other than a slow start to counter that. Just like a lot of talented young drivers, he needs someone to trust in him, and give him a couple of seasons to prove how good he is.

        Its a poor situation, get rid of a young potential future wdc, or a good development driver who has 1 or 2 seasons remaining.

        Personally (and I like Rubens a lot), I’d go for the two young drivers, and an experienced test driver (like Pedro DLR) to develop the car.

      3. Damian J says:

        One could be disingenuous by saying that Lewis Hamilton was “lucky” to land a drive with McLaren in F1 from day one but he had to prove his worth by winning many races to get there.

        As a rookie driver in F1, he also gave Alonso a run for his money which cama as a surprise to many F1 followers. How many F1 drivers have we seen come and go after been given a drive in one of the best cars but then fail to deliver. One could not say that about Hamilton. Does n’t that prove that Hamilton has true talent as a driver?

    4. mo kahn says:

      They only copied Alonso’s set-ups to benefit Hamilton. Wait up, Alonso is still in his first year with the Ferrari and look where he has brought them. He has the ability to push a team, next year it’ll be Michael, Alonso (both in the second year with their respective teams) their true element of supreme dominance will be revealed next year.

      Having said that, Hamilton and Vetel are brilliant drivers, but can they develop cars and team as Michael and Alonso? No, they still have some distance to go on this front. Common, not every guy is Kimi Raikkonen.

  39. Gonzalo says:

    The best young drivers dont come from GP2 anymore but from World Series. Guerrieri and Ricciardo deserve an opportunity in F1.

    1. Tim says:

      Maldonado was in the Renault World Series before GP2.

  40. Fiona says:

    Calling Hugo Chavez “colorful” was cute. However, I think “dictator” might be more acurate. His latest act was to SEIZE the American company Owens-Illonois just this past week.

  41. Stuart says:

    Williams needs to find a new sponsor. Paint the car whatever color is demanded, etc., in order to retain their 2010 driver lineup. Things are on the upswing, they shouldn’t change the drivers right now.

    1. Toby Bushby says:

      And I think that may be why they haven’t announced anything yet regarding their driver line-up. There’s still time to find a team sponsor to cover what Maldonado’s offering. Just because he’s running in the “young” driver tests, doesn’t mean he’s in the team yet. I think that if Williams can snag another team sponsor or two before the end of the year, they’ll keep Nico and Rubens, with Maldonado replacing Bottas as test driver, and a reduced sum from his backers going to the team.

  42. Richard Bell says:

    Williams obviously want to keep both, but do you dump Ruben’s who could develop the car with his vast experience, or do you keep the Hulk – a future champion? I’d do everything possible to keep both. Pastor may bring millions but he could cost the team more than that by lacking points, like Petrov has.

    If they really have to dump someone, regrettably I say Rubens, he’s had a chance to win an F1 championship and failed, if they build a car that can win the championship, judging by his impressive debut and super impressive CV Nico could do it. I wouldn’t expect it to happen anytime soon though.

    1. Damian J says:

      Agree. With the ban on testing so there it is no longer possible to do 100 driving miles per day schumacher styled testing, the ability of a driver to develop the car is limited.

      Williams can afford to take a chance on lower cost young talent rather than pay huge sums for a more experienced driver.

  43. Azlas says:

    “The kind words may be aimed at Barrichello’s ears as part of a negotiating ploy. There are some factions within the team who feel he could be doing more…”

    Come on James you can’t drop a sentence like that and not elaborate on it! Out with the secrets!

    Who are these factions and what exactly do they want Barrichello to do more of? What else do they want him to bring?

    Thanks in advance

    1. manos says:

      James,I second that.Explain please!!

  44. Tombob says:

    Formula 1 needs to take a look at itself. There are other drivers besides well funded GP2 drivers. The lack of testing and shortage of sponsors is forcing all but the top 4 teams to take pay drivers or drivers for their nationality. This is FORMULA 1, the supposed pinnacle of motorsport! I just want to see the BEST drivers in the world, not those with the deepest pockets or connections.

  45. Galapago555 says:

    James, an off topic point: is there any reason for the Site to accept the use of abusive names for Maldonado, such as “maldnoaisdnoas” or “Moldonado”? IMHO comments like those should be moderated, as long as they show so little respect for the drivers.

    1. Andy C says:

      Here here.

      I’m pretty sure some of it is genuine mispelling (I think I’ve spelt his name 4 different ways since last week lol), but some of it is as you say.

  46. lockster says:

    Hi Jo,

    I think that its possible that you might have a faulty keyboard on your computer, the “caps lock” button seems to be sticking on randomly while you’re typing, you may want to get it checked out… :)

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      Due to financial restrictions some of my keyboard buttons are paying for their slot. As you know paying buttons are less talented than those who gained their position by their own merit.

  47. Seth Williams says:

    Well written, James. If it were me I don’t think I could let Hulkenberg go. You can tell he’s going to be something special.

  48. Matt says:

    Nico deserves to stay, but let’s not right off Maldonado’s talents before he has even raced an F1 car. The track record of the GP2 champions once they arrive in F1 has generally been quite good. The GP2 standings can also be misleading – Frankly, Kobayashi (and to a lesser degree Buemi) seemed ordinary in GP2 and now look at them…

  49. Sergio Seixas says:

    Dear Mr. Allen,

    Here you come again…. .”Hulkemberg has often outpaced Barrichello”
    What about changing the word often by seldon.
    Your dislike for Barrichello is ridiculous. No one can take you as a serious jornalist.
    Shame on you.

    1. James Allen says:

      Read it more carefully, I specified in races. If you analyse the race laps he has. It’s a fact. However I also said that Barrichello has been faster in qualifying, that is also a fact. I deal in facts. As for not liking Rubens, why don’t you ask him, I don’t think he will agree.

    2. Galapago555 says:

      “No one can take you as a serious jornalist.”

      I do.

    3. Michael Grievson says:

      I’ve never read such rubbish.

  50. Mr G says:

    Just to reply to some of you on this topic.
    Williams is not only F1.
    F1 is part of a more complex manufacturing, desinging company and the sport branch of Wiliams has been always running an F1 team.
    If you look at the whole lot, there are at thecore a manufacturer and a designing house that have been excellent to race in F1.
    Recently, due to the economic downturn, sponsors that made F1 viable, have left Williams but the company model has not changed.
    If we look how the F1 teams are run is very simple.
    We have at least 4 teams were budget is not an issue, Ferrari, Red Bull, Mc Laren, Mercedes.
    We have teams finacially struggling like HRT, this season Sauber.
    The rest of the grid is made by teams that they can afford F1 only if sponsors will put money into it and if necessary they will have some paying drivers.
    Willimas has always looked first at the budget and then paid drivers, developed cars and so on, not the other way round.
    Jumping from a supplier to another is a financial decision and at the same time a calculated risk, maybe you can get an advantage.
    But at the end of the day, Williams is still in F1 because the managment has always been very keen to count the pennies, what will it happen if next season Red Bull brand will leave F1 ????
    Will Toro Rosso and Reb Bull racing still be able to compete ?
    So please just analyse the complete package before coming out with some, at times, ridiculous comments.
    People like Frank Williams, Patrick Head, Ken Tyrrel, Colin Chapman, even Bernie Ecclestone, have built competitive cars as noone has done before, integrating chassis and engine.
    They won races and some of them or their brand is still in F1 after more than 30 years.

    Congratulations to all of them from a Ferrari fan.

  51. Lewis Jones says:

    My hunch is it’s better to go with youth. Also, those of us with long memories remember that winning WDCs was not enough for either Nigel or Damon to keep their seat in a Williams, so Rubens being the better driver is no guarantee he will survive.
    (developing my point slightly, if Nigel, or more particularly Damon, had been treated better by Patrick Head and Frank, Adrian Newey may not have walked to McLaren and maybe Williams could have stayed on top)

  52. N says:

    Remembering from the races i’ve seen on tv Martin Brundle saying something like this at least twice (it was about Vitaly Petrov):that at the end it’s more expensive for the team to hire a pay-driver (referring to the point-gap between team-mates and therefore lost places in team- standings, which is lost money at the end of the season). If that’s true and Maldonado would be a pay-driver (for Williams), then it should be a way of losing money for Williams.
    I saw an interview with Rubens (i think from Spa) where he mentioned him deserving the seat for the next season for his technical input for the next year’s car, which is fair.
    Williams should keep the both current drivers and at the end it may be financially wiser too.

  53. Forzaminardi says:

    It’s absurd that after the season he’s had, Rubens is arriving in Brazil once again with his future uncertain. The man is a legend, he signing should be by right.

    OK, so if Maldonaldo is bringing cash, Hulkenberg has none and Rubens is getting paid a fair amount, here’s a happy medium – Rubens take a pay cut in the interests of the team, and they use that to subsidise Hulkenberg?

    1. Andy C says:

      I’m with you on the keeping the current drivers ideally, but the commercial realities for Williams are they will lose a lot of sponsorship revenue at the end of this year.

      I think the problem is the size of the backing Maldonado brings is more than Rubens and Nico get paid combined.

      Their key objective will be to ensure they as a team are in as strong a fnancial position at the start of the season as possible.

      No point being sat there at the start of next season with no money for development and two excellent drivers.

      I guess the thing is, both Rubens and Jenson took a pay cut at Brawn to ensure the survival of the team. Whether he would want to take one again depends on how much he wants to race next season (as in if he has earned enough to not have to worry about a couple of million, he may just say it is more important to race than to earn the money).

      Sure Williams will navigate these tricky waters. They usually do.

      Maybe if RBS and the other banks had done a better job of managing their balance sheet we wouldnt be having this discussion at all.

    2. dren says:

      If you pay close attention to quotes released by both parties, Rubens and Williams, it is just ploy for negotiations on both sides. I’m guessing Rubens wants more, Williams doesn’t want to pay it. Williams is leveraging Hulkenburg’s potential tallent and otherwise lower paycheck to a pay increase (or non-agreement to a pay decrease) that Rubens is demanding.

  54. mo kahn says:

    I think more than Hulk.. its Rubens that should be shown the door… he’s not done anything exceptional and is at the end of his career. Hulk on the other hand can be what Vetel is RB. RB took a distinct stand that RB will be built around Vetel. I think Sam Michael of Williams should take a stand of this nature and develop a true talent with future in mind and invest in him, rather investing in Rubens who is in the twilight of his career.

    F1, as in life, one must have definitives in short, mid and long term perspectives. And I think Hulk offers all three perspectives to Williams while Rubens offers just one (short) perspective.

  55. john g says:

    it’s a bit of a tricky one. experience has shown that it’s unwise to have two inexperienced drivers in your team. the only reason williams are propping up the top 10 is because of rubens experience. having said that, the hulk is clearly improving as a driver although does still have maturing to do.

    ideally you’d stick with these drivers or others of equal talent, perhaps heidfeld, who will continue to drive and push the team and bring home the points.

    but faced with losing RBS, Air Asia, and Philips (i think?) there’s going to be a significant hole in the budget, and one that the reported $10m makes maldonado look like a contender.

  56. JohnBt says:

    Better if Maldonado performs more like Kobayashi not Petrov. A gamble we will have to wait and see. Fact is the last GP2 championship was not impressive at all. Pay drivers are a huge risk as proven this year.

  57. Bob Q says:

    No matter how good Maldonado might be, I don’t think it is very ethical to take money from a communist dictator. Colorful President my ass.

  58. Sergio Seixas says:

    Dear Mr Allen,
    I am sorry for my comments about you as a professional. I really get crossed when I see Barrichello being bad treated. In Brazil the press has never been soft on him.
    I still disagree with the intensity of how often or seldon Hulkenberg has outpaced Barrichello. Not only Barrichello has qualified in front of Hulk but has scored many more points. There has been some situations that Hulkenberg (the next Schumacker)was strong than Barrichello (Japan for instance) but….not so many that you can describe as OFTEN.
    I believe that if both drivers are confirmed for next year, Hulkenberg will be much stronger what will be difficult for the ageing Brazilian but this year it has been “a walk in the park.”

  59. Steve S. says:

    How come nobody trashes Petronas or Malaysia’s sponsorship in F1?

    Malaysia is run by an unelected Muslim monarchy, for Christ sake !

    Big tobacco sponsored F1 until recently. Polluters like Shell are a common sight in F1. How about them?

    It is just stupid to bring politics into F1, plain and simple.

    You might not like Chavez, but his people elected him twice and Venezuela is a democracy and regularly holds elections monitored by international observers.

    In any case, I don’t think politics will play a role in Pastor Maldonado’s involvement in F1. He has won his place by delivering results.

    I think Rubens has to go to another team. If Hulk had 1/4 the experience Rubens has, he would have scored several podiums this year.

    Williams has nothing to lose by having a young duo in their lineup for 2011.

    Rubens is the past, Hulkenberg is the future, and Maldonado could very well be a Latin Kobayashi.

  60. terry says:

    Rubens will stay he could put together a bigger sponsor package from Brazilian backer in Biofuel or other sponsors if needed to stay in Formula one than Maldonado or Hulkenberg. He will become a pay to play driver but he will do it because he love being in formula one and racing and he gets great results.He loves being on the Williams team I think he wants to finish is career at Williams a Prestige name in formula one.

  61. Rupert Suren says:

    Williams do not need and should not need to change drivers for 2011. They just need a better marketing team to get them the sponsorship that they require.

    If it’s just money I’m sure that Kim il Sun would sponsor his son for mega bucks. Come on Frank stop behaving like a tart and get selling the team and yourself like the old days.

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